Practical Software Measurement

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There's No Risk in Software Project Planning

I like listening to audiobooks when I go for a morning run. This month it is a David Baldacci thriller about two CIA professional killers pitted against each other who end up working together to save us all from global catastrophe.  Apparently, there is a ton of planning involved in stealthily hunting a target, making the kill, and then getting away unseen.  That’s because there is a lot of risk.  Timing is critical, down to the split second, and the slightest mistake can end your life.  Discussing the highly complex plan to foil an assassination attempt with his partner, one agent says to the other, “There’s no risk in planning. The risk is in the execution.”

That got me thinking about software development and QSM’s SLIM-Suite estimating, tracking, and forecasting tools.  Do I agree with that statement?  Yes and no.  Let’s look at it both activities – project planning and execution.  

Planning

The activity of planning is not risky as far as your personal safety is concerned. You probably aren’t in danger of getting attacked or making a mistake that will cause bodily injury (you may experience emotional trauma or at least endure a minor headache).  It is most definitely risky for software development programs and initiatives, however, because aggressive plans based on poor estimates handicap the delivery team.  Without understanding the dynamics of software development projects or the ability to rapidly compute a range of potential outcomes to identify risky scenarios, planners may inadvertently commit to unrealistic schedule, budget, and staffing goals.  In fact, most plans are “goal based” ― task lists and staffing plans derived to give management or the customer what they want, because there is no solid framework or supporting data to defend against it. 

QSM Releases SLIM-Suite 10.3

We are pleased to anounce the release of SLIM-Suite 10.3, the latest version of our flagship software management tool suite. The pandemic has put enormous pressure on business leaders to utilize resources wisely while juggling development teams in remote locations. With that in mind, our goal with the newest release was to provide several small, yet powerful improvements designed to save time and increase consistency at every step of the project and portfolio planning process.

Improvements to SLIM-Estimate's Skills Breakout configuration make it easier to fine-tune skill categories and labor rates to support better resource demand planning at both the project and portfolio levels.  Additionally, the tool's API now exposes the Sizing and PI (Productivity Index, QSM's proprietary productivity measure) calculators for users who wish to leverage these features directly from a spreadsheet or other external applications.

SLIM-DataManager, QSM's database repository tool, has new functionality designed to make it easier to validate, understand, and analyze your portfolio of projects. Power editing and enhanced keyword management allow quick changes to multiple projects right from the master project list. Power editing makes it easy to add/update descriptive “tags” used to group projects into relevant categories for benchmarking and estimate calibration.

In addition to the new configuration capabilities, SLIM-Suite 10.3 features new agile enhancements, such as an updated SLIM-Estimate agile template. SLIM-Estimate and SLIM-Control now allow users to instantly toggle the display of agile increment lines between sprints, program increments, or both levels of detail.

How Accurate Must a Software Delivery Estimate Be to Be Effective?

During the COVID era, I started thinking of all the home improvement projects I would like to tackle and sadly have not started any, lol.  However, I recently became motivated and decided to apply drywall mud (skim coat) to two walls in my garage that have been dinged and dented over the years.  An essential part of this process is to first estimate my materials, time and effort to minimize the impact of disruption to my family’s day to day lives.  Estimating this job is a simple process – amount of surface area to be covered yields the amount of drywall mud I will need.  The time and effort to complete the project is the fuzziest part of the estimate, but since I have mudded before, I have a rough idea of how long it will take to mud, sand, mud again, sand again, then primer and paint.  The risk of this estimate is low, since my work won’t be keeping a medical device functioning, an airplane afloat or a billing system used by thousands operational.

Estimating software delivery is not that simple and its accuracy can be easily compromised – but what is “accurate?"  Software estimation’s non-linear nature introduces much complexity, since time, effort, resources, and quality are all interdependent - when a change to one of those measures happens it affects the others.

Blog Post Categories 
Estimation

Webinar Replay: Cost Optimization Best Practices for Software and IT Budgeting

Cost Optimization for Software and IT Budgeting Webinar

If you were unable to attend our recent webinar, "Cost Optimization Best Practices for Software and IT Budgeting," a replay is now available.

Managing spending and ensuring there is enough organizational capacity to fulfill client and stakeholder demands are challenges that thousands of software development and IT managers face every day. Leveraging a reliable data driven estimation and oversight process can save millions of dollars annually when carried out the right way. In this webinar, Keith Ciocco explains some of the best practices that QSM uses to help our clients improve their effectiveness when planning their project and portfolio budgets.

Watch the replay!

Blog Post Categories 
webinar IT Budgeting Capacity Planning

Upcoming Webinar: Cost Optimization Best Practices for Software and IT Budgeting

Cost Optimization for Software and IT Budgeting Webinar

Managing spending and ensuring there is enough organizational capacity to fulfill client and stakeholder demands are challenges that thousands of software development and IT managers face every day. Leveraging a reliable data driven estimation and oversight process can save millions of dollars annually when carried out the right way. In this webinar presented on Wednesday, April 21 at 1:00 PM EDT, Keith Ciocco will explain some of the best practices that QSM uses to help our clients improve their effectiveness when planning their project and portfolio budgets.

Register now!

Blog Post Categories 
webinar IT Budgeting Capacity Planning

Webinar Replay: Leverage Top-Down Estimation for Better IT Planning

Top-Down Estimation Webinar

If you were unable to attend our recent webinar, "Leverage Top-Down Estimation for Better IT Planning," a replay is now available.

Technology organizations spend millions of dollars a year on IT project planning, delivery, and proposal work. Major questions around cost, duration, scope, and quality are at the forefront of the decision making process. All of this combined with the pressure of ensuring plans and proposals are realistic can make this process a challenging one.

Being able to generate early, top-down estimates while leveraging industry data and empirically-based models is essential to negotiating realistic goals and meeting customer expectations. In this webinar, Keith Ciocco will show how QSM’s SaaS solution, SLIM-Collaborate, can be leveraged early in the planning and proposal process to help meet these challenges.

Watch the Replay!

Blog Post Categories 
Estimation Webinars SLIM-Collaborate

Upcoming Webinar: Leverage Top-Down Estimation for Better IT Planning

Top-Down Estimation Webinar

Technology organizations spend millions of dollars a year on IT project planning, delivery, and proposal work. Major questions around cost, duration, scope, and quality are at the forefront of the decision making process. All of this combined with the pressure of ensuring plans and proposals are realistic can make this process a challenging one.

Being able to generate early, top-down estimates while leveraging industry data and empirically-based models is essential to negotiating realistic goals and meeting customer expectations. In this webinar presented on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 1 PM EST, Keith Ciocco will show how QSM’s SaaS solution, SLIM-Collaborate, can be leveraged early in the planning and proposal process to help meet these challenges.

Register here!

Blog Post Categories 
Estimation Webinars SLIM-Collaborate

Webinar Replay: Using Metrics to Manage Runaway IT Projects

Using Metrics to Manage Runaway IT Projects

If you were unable to attend our recent webinar on Using Metrics to Manage Runaway IT Projects, a replay is now available.

Technology organizations spend thousands of hours a month planning and delivering their software engineering, cloud, and IT transformation projects. Unfortunately many of these projects start off with unrealistic expectations around cost, duration and scope; or they start fine, but then customer requirements change. Being able to generate metrics analysis and adaptive forecasting when projects are in trouble is essential to saving money and time. All of this combined with the need to negotiate and reset expectations can make this process a challenging one. In this webinar, Keith Ciocco will show how estimation and control tools can be leveraged early and while projects are in-flight.

Watch the Replay!

Blog Post Categories 
SLIM-Control Tracking Estimation Webinars

Simplified Function Point Analysis (SiFP)

One of the stated purposes of function point analysis is to provide a size measure that can be used as an input to help estimate the cost, effort, schedule, and staff needed to develop a software project. The standards for how this is done are maintained by the International Function Point Users Group (IFPUG). In a nutshell, function point analysis identifies, from a user perspective, logical groups of data that a project or application maintains or accesses and logical processes that update, query, transmit, or report on that data. The counting rules are extensive, very specific, and assign function point values to these based on the number of data stores a process accesses and the data elements it touches. To help assure that function point counting is conducted in a standardized manner, IFPUG certifies counters who have demonstrated mastery of the counting rules through passing an exam. These counters have the title of Certified Function Point Specialists (CFPS).

There is a problem with using traditional function point analysis in the conceptual phase of a software project when the budget, schedule, and staffing are being planned: the information required to count function points according to the rules is normally unavailable and, in many cases, does not yet exist. To overcome this obstacle, function point counters have devised a number of quick counting methods to estimate project function point counts. Most of these are rules of thumb whose implementation varies from one counter to another.

SiFP was developed by Roberto Meli and associates in Italy. In 2019, IFPUG acquired the rights to the methodology and plans to integrate it into its portfolio in 2021.  Follow this link for more details.

So how does SiFP differ from regular function point analysis, and why is it simpler? Three differentiators stand out:

Blog Post Categories 
Function Points Sizing

Upcoming Webinar: Using Metrics to Manage Runaway IT Projects

Using Metrics to Manage Runaway IT Projects

Technology organizations spend thousands of hours a month planning and delivering their software engineering, cloud, and IT transformation projects. Unfortunately many of these projects start off with unrealistic expectations around cost, duration and scope; or they start fine, but then customer requirements change. Being able to generate metrics analysis and adaptive forecasting when projects are in trouble is essential to saving money and time. All of this combined with the need to negotiate and reset expectations can make this process a challenging one. In this webinar, presented on Thursday, January 21 at 1:00 PM ESTKeith Ciocco will show how estimation and control tools can be leveraged early and while projects are in-flight.

Register here!

Blog Post Categories 
SLIM-Control Tracking Estimation Webinars